My mom always said, “You’ll be able to count on one hand who your real friends are.”
Growing up, I found that notion kinda depressing. Like most youngsters, I wanted a lot of friends. I wanted to be popular.
But as an adult, I can see that creating and maintaining strong friendships isn’t easy – there’s a reason they say you only need a handful of good friends to get by with.
So how do you know the ones you’ve surrounded yourself with are genuine?
Here are 9 moments in life that reveal who your true friends really are
1) During hard times or crisis
Anyone can be a good friend when life is smooth sailing. It’s when things take a turn for the worst that their true colors come out.
Let’s say you suddenly lose your job. At the same time, your relationship breaks down.
And they do it without expecting anything in return.
From bringing over food to listening patiently while you vent, they’re there for you emotionally and physically.
Because ultimately, they want the best for you. They care about you and want to see you thrive.
2) When you’re not at your best
I had a big learning moment a few years back. At the time, my partner was living in a shared house with our friends. One of which was going through a lot.
We’ll call him Jaime. His moods were up and down and he was constantly stressed out.
One day, he snapped at me over something very small, and I began distancing myself. I thought he was being rude and selfish.
But my partner gently encouraged me to think again – he could see that Jaime was struggling emotionally and that now more than ever, he needed our support.
Turns out, my partner was right. Jaime changed careers, left his (toxic) relationship, and is doing so much better now. All he needed was the support of his friends to get through it.
I’m glad I listened to my partner, as we’re all still friends to this day.
3) In moments of success
Want to know who your true friends really are?
See how they react when good things come your way.
If they’re genuinely happy for you, ready to celebrate, and show that they’re proud, you’ve struck gold.
These are the people who are rooting for you.
It’ll be around this time that you’ll notice other people, people you thought were your friends, start to act weird.
This is called envy.
They may try to act happy for you, but their energy and vibe will speak differently. The odd backhanded comment might slip out, or they’re suddenly busy the night you’re celebrating your big promotion.
4) When you need honest opinions
When Jaime was going through his tough patch, I’ll admit, I wasn’t the friend I should have been. I avoided talking to him about his issues.
But my partner showed up.
He told Jaime when he crossed the line. He also sat down and spoke for hours, honestly and truthfully, about Jaime’s lifestyle and how that was affecting him (Jaime) and everyone around him.
And it’s through this honesty that Jaime changed his life around.
So, when it comes to the truth, that’s when your real friends will come through.
They won’t hold back from telling you the person you’re about to marry is an asshole, or that your talent doesn’t lie in cooking but in communication.
In other words, they won’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.
5) During times of change
Change of any sort can cause turbulence.
Moving house, getting married, changing careers, having kids, or going through grief, we change as people when we go through such big life events.
And that’s when we need the support and consistency of friends to help us through it all.
When you face all of the above, you’re not going to have time to hang out like before. You may struggle to respond to text messages or make it to every social event.
But a true friend won’t hold this against you.
They’ll check in to see how you’re doing, offer a hand whenever possible, and remind you that while the process of change can feel scary and overwhelming, you’re never alone.
6) When you make mistakes
We all mess up at some point in life.
Jaime forgave me for distancing myself from him. He could have held it against me, and I wouldn’t have blamed him.
Years ago, when I accidentally let slip a secret of my cousin to another family member, I expected her to never trust me again.
But we talked about it, she accepted my apology, and to this day, we still confide in each other.
You see, true, good friends know that no one is perfect.
As long as your intentions aren’t malicious, they’ll usually find a way to work through issues and reach a place of mutual understanding.
On the other hand, not-so-great friends will hold every comment, error in judgment, and mistake against you. Even if they don’t fall out with you, you’ll hear it through passive-aggressive comments.
7) In moments of vulnerability
Who are the people you can go to when you’re feeling at your most exposed?
When your feelings are raw and hard to deal with?
The people that have just popped into your mind are your true friends.
They might not be the people you hang out with every day. Or the people you send memes to on social media.
But the fact that you can be vulnerable around them no matter how often you see each other and they’re always there for you shows that they’re your safe space.
My school friend, who I only probably get to see once a year if that (we live in different countries now) is that person for me. It doesn’t matter that we don’t text often or see each other regularly.
If I need to have a real heart-to-heart and bare my soul, she’s the one I know I can go to, and vice versa.
8) In balancing give and take
A friendship is about balance.
One day you host your friend, the next time they’ll have you around to their place. If you pay for a meal, they’ll get the bill the next time.
And when it comes to leaning on each other for emotional support, both people should be aware and conscious of not overwhelming the other and causing emotional fatigue.
So, you can confidently cross off those who take, take, take, and give nothing in return.
These aren’t true friends.
They might act like it, but when push comes to shove, they’re all about themselves and their needs.
A real friend genuinely wants to give back. They want to hear about you as much as they want to talk about themselves.
9) Respecting boundaries
Want to know the reason I love setting boundaries?
They sift out the baddies. The people we don’t need around us, the people who disrupt our inner peace and happiness.
But they also reveal who our true friends really are.
Because when you set a limit, they’ll respect it. They’ll seek to understand it, and even if they don’t ever reach that point, they love you enough to honor it.
Someone who dresses as a friend in disguise will quickly violate your boundaries. Again and again.
Deep down, this is a sign that they don’t respect you.
So if you’re ever in doubt about who you should keep around in life, consider setting some personal limits and see who cares enough to listen to them, and who doesn’t.
There we have it – nine moments in life that reveal who your true friends really are.
I’ve learned over the years that we need to go through certain life situations before we see the character of the people around us (and our own character, for that matter).
But once we do, we know who we’re dealing with. And those that stick around during the moments above are worth keeping close – after all, true friends are hard to come by.
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